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1960s, WESTERN

The Wild Bunch (1969)

WildBunch

Duration 2h 15m Rating (UK) 18
Source of story An original screenplay
Director Sam Peckinpah
Writers/Script Sam Peckinpah, Walon Green (story Walon Green, Roy N. Sickner)
Starring William Holden, Ernest Borgnine,Robert Ryan, Edmond O’Brien, Warren Oates, Jaime Sánchez,

Elevator Pitch: It is 1913 and a gang of bandits are aiming to rob a railroad office, apparently holding a load of silver. But it is a trap and on the adjacent buildings a group a bounty hunters are awaiting them. There is  shoot-out and some of the robnbers escape shielded by a temperance rally, and go on the run to Mexico, pursued by the bounty hunters. The trail leads them eventually to a Mexican enclave where an army general is holed up, and who hires them to rob an ammunition train back in the US. The robbery is a success, but it is downhill from there.

Content: There is a moment of female nudity in a flashback to the gang leader’s past, also a lot of drunkeness and carousing with prostitutes in a Mexican village. The set pieces are lengthy and elaborate, involving hand guns, rifles, and later featuring a machine gun. Some of the gang, a number of innocent bystanders and a load of Mexican soldiers are killed.  The gang prevent the bounty hunters from following them by blowing up a bridge – with men and horses on it – watch for it, it is breathtaking.

A View: The film is known as a “revisionist western” where the protagonists are not either good or bad, as they used to be in traditional westerns.  In this film the gang are obviously bad people but the bounty hunters, who aught to be “good” are even worse, and they all seem to be admirable compared with the Mexican general. The scenery is terrific, most of the film really was filmed in Mexico and it shows. Although it was considered to be extremely violent in 1969, it would probably not raise an eyebrow today, but neverthless well worth the cost of a download.

Additional info: There was a lot of impromptu stuff in this movie. Apparently the train robbery was coreographed on the hoof, the “last walk” was made up at the time and the carousing scene used real prostitutes from the local brothel.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels

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